Barry's Bay, Ontario – Union members at the Madawaska Valley Association for Community Living (MVACL) are “fired up and ready” to head back to the bargaining table March 1. The members of Local 473 of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) handed their bargaining team a 98 per cent strike vote this month.
The 85 workers have been without a collective agreement for 11 months, said Local 473 bargaining chair Bill Green. “Our members are unhappy about the lack of progress in bargaining, so we wanted the employer to see that we are all unified in our call for a better contract,” Green said of the strike vote.
Sticking points at the bargaining table include wages, special leave, and benefits.
“We do great work, and we enjoy our work,” said Green. “But we can’t live on good feelings. Our employer has a responsibility to ensure decent wages and working conditions.”
Government underfunding remains a problem in developmental services, Green said. “We don’t entirely blame the employer. This whole sector is underfunded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, but that doesn’t mean the workers don’t deserve fairness.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas criticized Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government for what he called “total neglect” of developmental services. “She needs to stop looking the other way on developmental services. This sector is in crisis, and we need a solution now.
“In the meantime, I hope this employer does right by the workers who do such important work and deserve decent treatment.”
OPSEU members at MVACL provide support for adults with developmental disabilities.
For more information: Bill Green, 343-369-1652